A two-year working relationship between the Augusta Lynx and the Anaheim Ducks came to an end on Wednesday when the National Hockey League team announced it will use the Bakersfield Condors as an ECHL affiliate for the 2008-09 season.
The Condors are only 144 miles from Anaheim, while the Lynx make their home three time zones and more than 2,300 miles away.
A Lynx press release sent out Wednesday evening indicated the difference in distance was one of the reasons for the split.
"Obviously, geographic location played a big factor in this decision and we can certainly understand the reasoning behind it," Lynx head coach Bob Ferguson said. "We had a great relationship with the Ducks and will continue to follow the players we have become familiar with in their ultimate quest to make it to the NHL."
Ten members of the 2007-08 Lynx roster were signed with Anaheim and won't return to Augusta in the fall as a result. They include forwards Matt Christie, Ryan Dingle, Matt Auffrey, Bobby Bolt, Shane Hynes and Geoff Peters, defenseman Adrian Veideman and goaltenders Bobby Goepfert and J.P. Levasseur.
Ferguson said the search for a new NHL affiliate will begin immediately. Eight NHL teams don't have an ECHL affiliate for the 2008-09 season, according to ArenaDigest.com.
"There's no question affiliations are valuable," Ferguson said. "Both in terms of the players you get from them, and then one of the ways to sign free agents is to have that attraction of an affiliate where they can have the opportunity to move up to the AHL."
Ferguson said it is possible the Lynx could play the 2008-09 season without an NHL affiliate but the team hopes to avoid such a situation.
"If that happened it wouldn't be by our choice, but it's happened before and it's not the end of the world," Ferguson said.
The Lynx would like to have a deal in place with an NHL team before the free-agency signing period begins on July 1.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
The Lynx have been an official affiliate of at least one NHL team in six of their 10 seasons in Augusta: